Machine tool industry closes a record year with a 17.1% increase in turnover

Gipuzkoa, News

Although order intake has started to show signs of weakening, it is expected to recover its pace in the last half of the year.

Bilbao will host the BIEMH, the country’s major industrial event, from 3 to 7 June, with very favourable expectations.

The total turnover of the machine tool sector (machine tools, components and cutting tools) reached an all-time high in 2023 after exceeding 2,000 million euros in a year which, although it started off hesitantly, has shown great dynamism, growing by 17.1% over the figure for 2022. By sub-sectors, machinery has grown by 21.5%, with deformation presenting a magnificent performance, with an increase of 37.6% and reaching 447 million euros, and start-up also growing with an increase of 15% and 929 million euros. The important investments of the automotive sector have been the main key to the good performance of the deformation. For start-up, sectors such as energy and aeronautics, among others, have contributed to the growth.

As far as the rest of the subsectors are concerned, components and cutting tools have maintained similar figures to those of the previous year, while other machinery and services have grown notably, by 27% and 18%, respectively.

Exports stood out with a growth of more than 20% and 1,552 million euros, in a year in which one of our main markets, Germany, experienced difficulties. Despite this, the very strong pull from the USA and Mexico and the materialisation of the orders won in 2022 in Italy, together with China and France, have strongly boosted our sales abroad. Particularly noteworthy is the figure achieved in the USA, which for the first time in years has become the top destination for our exports.

In exports, the growth of deformation is very striking, rising by 64% compared to its 2022 figure, with 329 million euros. The start-up, more restrained, grows by 13%, reaching 782 million euros.

José Pérez Berdud, president of AFM Cluster: “The presence of the sector at international level is the tangible proof of our competitiveness. In the market niches in which we operate, we hold very prominent positions, often in a leading position. It is very remarkable that the sophistication, the technological level, the degree of automation, and consequently the average price of the equipment we have sold in recent years has grown very significantly. We are winning contracts that we would have thought unthinkable just 10 years ago”.


Orders, on the other hand, grew by 12% in 2023, continuing the previous year’s 11% rise, with a strong increase in the deformation (+22.06%) and moderate growth in start-up (+5.23%). As for the origin of the orders, the strength of the USA and Mexico, which have beaten all their records, should be highlighted. Germany is holding up despite transmitting some weakness; China, after two very strong years, has lost in 2023 a large part of what it gained and Italy, with the elimination of tax incentives, is returning to the usual figures of the past. Spain, for its part, is growing by 34%, although the absolute figure is still insufficient.

Xabier Ortueta, CEO of AFM Cluster: “In a complicated scenario throughout 2023, we have been able to overcome the fall in orders suffered by some of our neighbours. An atypical mix of markets and client sectors, with unique high-level operations, have enabled us to complete a good year in terms of order intake”.


The turnover forecast for 2024 is moderately optimistic, taking into account the interesting order book with which we closed the financial year 2023. Our estimates are for growth of around 5-7%. Although order intake is expected to slow down in the first half of the year, industry experts predict a good recovery towards the end of the year. In any case, it will be difficult to reach the levels of 2023.

Xabier Ortueta: “The markets continue to be convulsed, with some sectors proving to be very buoyant and others less so. The scenario of high inflation and high interest rates, although it seems to have reached its turning point, does not favour the necessary confidence to invest. Forward-looking analyses suggest that the economy and also machine tool orders will continue to slow down until at least the last quarter, after which a full recovery is expected by 2025. Let’s hope so.


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